Erik ten Hag gamble backfires and Andre Onana rages as Arsenal break Man Utd hoodoo | Football | Sport

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League table and claimed just a second win at Old Trafford in their past 17 visits to secure a vital three points in the title race. Manchester United started strongly but it was the visitors who struck first when Leandro Trossard tapped home from close range following Kai Havertz’s low cross. The Belgian’s finish was all that was needed for an away win, as Express Sport runs the rule over the game’s biggest talking points.

Erik ten Hag gamble backfires

Arsenal’s winning goal came as a direct result of a tactical switch by Erik ten Hag, with Casemiro and Jonny Evans instructed to split as Sofyan Amrabat operated in a new role when in possession between the two centre-backs, not dissimilar to an old-fashioned sweeper in a major change of system.

After a positive opening 20 minutes from the hosts, Casemiro moved out to the right as Andre Onana had possession, but when the ball was played long and eventually turned over, the makeshift defender was publicly caught out of position.

The Brazilian jogged, rather than sprinted, to get up to United’s defensive line and allowed Havertz to receive the ball in the channel with time to pick out Trossard in the six-yard area to open the scoring and leave the United boss red-faced.

Watch all the Premier League and Champions League drama unfold on TNT Sports

Andre Onana explodes at United team-mates

On the stroke of half-time, goalkeeper Onana had the ball at his feet in the middle of the pitch as he searched for a team-mate to pass to. However, much to his frustration there were no options and the Senegalese stopper had to delay moving play on.

As he stood in the centre circle on the ball, he shouted and gestured at his fellow United stars to show some movement, exploding into rage before sending the ball long and the half-time whistle blew.

The second half provided little respite for Onana, who was busier but those in front of him were unable to break down a resolute visiting defence, with their lack of creative runs highlighted by the goalkeeper.

Arsenal back four show United up

Two teams with contrasting seasons were on display, no better illustrated by each side’s defences. Ben White, Gabriel and William Saliba have been the bedrock of an Arsenal outfit that has conceded just 28 times in 37 Premier League matches, racking up yet another clean sheet in a historically difficult away trip for the Gunners.

The visitors only needed to score once to claim all three points at Old Trafford, while United’s defensive failings were on show again as Trossard scored the 82nd goal against the Red Devils in all competitions this season.

That tally is the most in a single campaign since 1970/71 and although Ten Hag’s backline has been decimated by injuries, there can be little excuse for the amount of goals shipped. The issue will need serious addressing by new hierarchy INEOS for next season.

And to make matters worse, veteran centre-back Evans was forced off with an injury after 75 minutes and had to be replaced by 19-year-old Willy Kambwala, leaving his participation in doubt for the remaining three games of their season.

Arsenal pinpoint and exploit United weakness

During the pre-match warm-ups, the Manchester Evening News noted that Arsenal were rigorously practising one training drill that worked on creating an opportunity for a low cut-back cross and finish.

Having seemingly discovered a weakness in United’s defensive set-up, it was swiftly exploited when Havertz found himself in a crossing position, delivered a drilled cut-back and Trossard was in the perfect position to steer his effort past Onana.

The pre-match preparation clearly paid off and after a few weeks when the Arsenal set-piece coach Nicolas Jover has rightly received plenty of acclaim, Mikel Arteta’s opposition analysts could be set for the same treatment.

Arsenal and United state of play

Arsenal are top of the league and have just one more game remaining, but the title is still not in their hands. After Manchester City’s 4-0 win at Fulham on Saturday, they sit one point behind the Gunners but have a game in hand.

All Arteta’s side can do now is win against Everton on the final day and hope their title rivals slip up against either Tottenham or West Ham.

The highest United can now finish is sixth, with a defeat ensuring they cannot catch fifth-placed Spurs. The Red Devils are currently eighth and face the prospect of being without any European football next season, three points behind both Newcastle and Chelsea above them.

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